Spirit of the Potters

Spirit of the Potters: Revitalization of Cahuilla Pottery

IMG_0442Objects and artifacts often tell a story. How does the environment influence the raw material that is gathered to create the piece?  And, what does the maker of the object have in mind when he or she creates the piece?  The spirit of an artifact and an object does not diminish, but lives on from time immemorial to the present. 

IMG_0533While this tradition arrived late, perhaps 900 to 950 years ago, pottery was made and used by the Cahuilla.  These vessels, which included ollas (Spanish word for pot characterized by a tall and narrow neck), cook pots, and bowls, were primarily for utilitarian purposes to carry and store food and water.  Each of these vessels hold a specific meaning for Native peoples who regard them as not solely pieces of artwork, but as “living” objects that were handcrafted by their ancestors a long time ago.


The exhibition features contemporary pottery from a local artist and a native of Joshua Tree, Tony Soares (Metis/Azore Island Portuguese), who, along with Cahuilla potter, David Largo, has been leading these revitalization efforts since the 1990s.  Pottery from Tony Soares’ students are displayed alongside pieces from the Museum’s collections.  This exhibit also includes a hands-on activity for kids.